by Michael McHugh
With the recall of all-star Josh Harding to the Minnesota Wild, goalie Seamus Kotyk is getting more playing time as the Aeros head towards the postseason.
For Kotyk, the only thing on his mind right now is a chance to win a Calder Cup.
“He’s done an excellent job,” said Aeros head coach Rob Daum of Kotyk. “He’s a backup goalie but he’s done an outstanding job of preparing himself. When he’s gotten the opportunity to play, which has happened a fair amount, he’s been excellent.”
An Ontario native, he grew up in Sault Ste. Marie where he lived until he was 15, playing minor hockey and baseball in the summers. He played junior hockey for the Ottawa 67’s, and says he “had probably the four best years” of his life while there.
While with the 67’s, Kotyk, a fan favorite, played in two Memorial Cups and was instrumental in leading his team to the championship in 1999. He was also named the OHL playoff MVP in 2001.
From there he had stints with Cleveland (2001-04) and Milwaukee (2004-05). Cleveland was a learning experience, where he grew as a hockey player and as a person.
In April 2005, while playing with Milwaukee at a game in San Antonio, Kotyk joined a small fraternity of goalies in American Hockey League history when he became the eighth goaltender to score a goal.
“That felt pretty good. It really wasn’t much of a play, it was just a fluke,” he laughed. “I was never one that handled the puck real well when I was in Cleveland. It was something that was brought to my attention that I needed to improve on, so when I scored the goal last year, I ended up calling the coaches and GM back there and having a good laugh about it.”
Being able to play a sport he loves, and do it every day, makes Kotyk a happy man.
“I think it’s just – you’ve got to have a goal, some hard work, and some determination to get to that goal,” he said.
A sense of humor comes in handy in this game, and he has lots of hockey stories, but he prefers to be the guy in the corner laughing at the guy getting the joke pulled on.
“The best stories happen on the when you’re on the road,” he smiled. “I’ve got some ideas up my sleeve, but I only lay those when I really need to.”
He’s also the guy who likes to sing in the car, but will tell you he clearly isn’t a singer. He enjoys listening to classic rock, especially Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Doors. Asked if he could trade places with anyone for a day, he would like to be Laird Hamilton, saying “He’s a big wave surfer from Hawaii and I think he has a pretty cool life.” Hawaii is a favorite vacation spot.
Battling it out with Milwaukee for first place in the West, Kotyk realizes his team has their hands full.
“I would say that Milwaukee is a challenging team to play against. They have a lot of offense and they can be tough. There are a lot of similarities (between the two teams). A lot of offensive abilities, a good power play, the blue line on both teams that can move the puck up and goaltending.”
And who does he think will prevail as this year’s West Division champion?
“It’s close, so I think a bounce or a break will determine the game between the two teams.”